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Medical Center of Aurora makes changes to treat coronavirus patients

Posted at 11:49 AM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 13:56:57-04

AURORA, Colo. — The Medical Center of Aurora has made several changes to hospital logistics in order to make room and improve care for coronavirus patients.

In terms of volume, the Medical Center of Aurora is one of the busiest hospitals in Colorado for coronavirus patient care.

Even before the first confirmed positive case in Colorado, the hospital started admitting suspected COVID-19 patients.

“We started isolating patients long before the first patient tested positive on March 1,” said the medical center's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Philip Stahel.

Around mid-March, to make room for a surge in patients, the hospital added new walls and big red signs on patient's doors to alert nurses if a patient tested positive, Stahel said.

The hospital also expanded the intensive care unit.

“We surged from 38 ICU beds to 60. We started utilizing areas not designated for ICU patients, like the post-anesthesia unit, endoscopy unit, catheterization lab, and recovery unit for ventilated patients,” said Stahel.

Before the pandemic, the hospital’s ICU had 12 ventilators but now they have 52.

Stahel said the hospital receives a lot of COVID-19 transfer patients.

Many patients are coming from the high country because the medical center has referral relationships with those hospitals.

But according to Stahel, patients also get transferred to the Medical Center of Aurora to receive a treatment many other hospitals do not offer.

“It’s called extra corporal membrane oxygenation. When the patient’s lungs shut down, we are able to provide a circuit around the lung, in artificial matter, so the blood gets oxygenated,” said Stahel.

Other than the special treatment and ability to serve many COVID-19 patients, according to Stahel there’s another element adding to the hospital’s successful response to coronavirus: volunteers.

“We have volunteer physicians who dedicate their time to call patient's families and give them real-time updates which allows intensivists to focus on patient care,” said Stahel.

The Medical Center of Aurora has discharged more than 260 patients that have tested positive for coronavirus.

Stahel said the hospital team is very proud of the positive statistic.